March 18, 2009

Can't Seem to Focus? Take This Quiz!

Presbyopia is a funny-sounding word, isn’t it? If you're familiar with myopia (near-sightedness) you might recognize that it has something to do with messed-up vision. But it’s the age-related kind -- basically, as you get older your lenses lose elasticity, and you can’t focus on close objects. Age-related farsightedness starts hitting people in their forties; by 65, pretty much everyone has it.

A report a few years ago on the prevalence of presbyopia said that more than 1 billion people worldwide suffer from it. Sadly, 517 million of these folks had uncorrected vision—most of those in poorer parts of the world, where presumably reading glasses were unavailable or unaffordable. (This would be a nice place to mention an eyeglasses-related charity; unfortunately, the ones I stumbled across were either local or not recommended--so if anyone knows of a good one, please drop a note in the comments).

But there is another subset of middle-aged people with crappy close-up vision that remains uncorrected. This sadly avoidable vision problem, Stubbornopia, affects tens of millions of victims! (Or whatever. I totally made that up, but it sounds likely doesn't it?)

Could you or someone you love suffer from this debilitating condition?

Here’s a handy quiz to find out!

Official Presbyopia/Stubbornopia Assesment Tool

1. When looking at a dinner menu at restaurant:

a. I can read the menu just fine.

b. I put on my reading glasses and have no trouble reading the entire menu.

c. I can make out a little of it but have to borrow someone’s glasses if I want to know the details. But my eyes are just fine! They just never have adequate lighting at restaurants anymore. (Atmosphere shmatmosphere, a tiny candle is not enough to read by!)

2. When working on the computer:

a. I can read the typeface just fine.

b. I put on my reading glasses and have no trouble reading the text.

c. I see just fine once I pump up the computers default setting on the font size. (And if you have Firefox, "Control-plus-plus" is a very handy key combination!) There’s nothing wrong with my eyes, the stupid computer makers just use a default size that’s WAY too small.

3. When looking on the back of a medication or supplement bottle to check the recommended dosage:

a. I have no trouble reading what it says.

b. I just put on my reading glasses and I can read the directions clearly.

c. Why the hell do they make the print so small? NO ONE could possibly read that!!!

4. When performing personal grooming tasks that involve hair removal, like, for example, eyebrow plucking:

a. I can see stray hairs just fine.

b. I use a magnifying mirror since it’s hard to tweeze around reading glasses.

c. What stray hairs? I used to have them but for some reason I don’t anymore.

5. If I reached an age when many of my contemporaries were starting to wear reading glasses, this would suggest to me that:

a. I suppose if that happened, I might need some soon too--but no one I know wears reading glasses yet.

b. My friends have discovered, as I already have, that it is much easier to read and perform other tasks with properly corrected vision!

c. My friends must be aging! Too bad for them! Alas, they aren’t invincible like I am and immune from the normal aging process.

Got mostly A's? Lucky you, you're still a young person!

Mostly B's? You have Presbyopia, and are coping with it in a sensible manner.

Are you like me and have a bunch of C’s? You too may be suffering from Stubbornopia.

(I’ve finally admitted it: I need reading glasses. And you know what? They’ve got ‘em at the drug store for like ten bucks! And they enable you to work on the computer, read restaurant menus, and see all that tiny print out there just like you could when you were younger!)

(And if you're not a fan of glasses, you can get contact lenses for presbyopia now too! And thanks to the friendly folks at 1 800 Contacts for reminding me.)

Anyone else in denial about reading glasses or are you all too youthful and eagle-eyed to need them yet? Any other vision issues you find frustrating?


  1. I got all A's! I needed this comfort because my obstetrician, I mean my optometi..??? Uh, my eye doctor says I'm near legally blind without glasses. You couldn't pay me to identify something from far away.

  2. Love this post Crabby! My ma had stubbornopia for a while before she finally decided it was time...then she got like 100 pairs of glasses to put around the house EVERYWHERE and she still gets upset when she loses a pair...makes me laugh...

    I had lasik surgery last year, so here's hopin' it's a while before presbyopia kicks in :)

    Hope you're doing well!

  3. Mostly B's but I correct it my own way - by only wearing one contact lens. I prefer it this way for photography. Very funny quiz. :)

  4. I got all A's as well. But I have noticed over the years and with the introduction of those blue headlights that I have more trouble driving at night, those blue headlights blind me.

  5. Well I couldn't help noticing that I had a mixture - but the time I most noticed that my arms had gotten shorter (maybe that's where the stubbornopia resides) was trying to read the difference between what product was what in a hotel room. No wonder I washed my hair with body lotion.

    On another note - my grandfather who was a voracious reader had to stop reading at the ripe old age of 97 because he just couldn't see the print anymore. Anyways he has also developed stubborn sores on his shins that wouldn't heal due to circulatory problems. We got him a Reflex-o-board and after a few weeks his leg ulcers had healed and most miraculously he could read again. His eye doctor was amazed and thought that as the reflex-o-board improved his circulation it meant his blood was able to carry more oxygen which then bathed the optic nerve with more oxygen improving his eyesight. Guess there's more than one cure for stubbornopia. Thanks for the reminder, off to dust off my reflex-o-board.

  6. I've worn glasses since I was 7 years old. For a year when I was 15, I wore bifocals - it actually stopped the rapid deterioration of my eyesight.

    With that said, glasses are sexy. Seriously.

  7. Sigh. The worst thing is that my reading glasses look exactly like my regular glasses, and I can never locate the right pair. This is my absolute LEAST favorite thing about aging.

    (But the print on those bottle really IS too insanely small for anyone to see!)

  8. Im waiting for this.
    I used to wear my glasses but not need em I can NOT see the clockthing we have shining the time on the ceiling without waking all the way up, getting glasses, and checking.


  9. I got mostly A's, but still need to wear glasses when I do things like drive, because college killed my ability to see things far away.

  10. I've been wearing glasses (and then contact lenses) since I was in grade 4...I pretty much can't do anything without my corrective lenses.

    I work on a computer all day and I find I start out in the morning ok, but by afternoon things can get blurry. I think that has to do with tired eyes needing a break. I try to get out for a walk in the afternoons, to get away from the computer for a bit, but it doesn't always happen.

  11. I got some computer glasses a little while ago. Can't think of the right name, but most of the lenses are for reading at computer distance with a wee bit for reading. Okay, most people would probably just say "bifocal" but these are marketed as computer glasses.
    They're just for reading and computer, though. I still get by bare-eyed for everything else.

  12. Funny stuff!! I think we all got this one some of the time.

  13. I can't seem to focus well enough to take this quiz!
    Don't know why they make the type so small on everything nowadays - is there some kind of space shortage or somethin'?

    The thing that pissed me off the most? I already wear contact lenses to correct myopia. So now, when I'm wearing the contact lenses, I have to put on reading glasses to see small print. If I want to pluck my eyebrows, I have to take the contact lenses out because I can still see fine up close without corrective lenses!

  14. My grandmother has the hearing loss version of this.

    Me? I'm already sentenced to a life of glasses and contacts, so I *know* I'll be in bifocals by the time i'm 50.

  15. I'm all A's...I've had glasses forever, but it's for things far away. Up close it's not been a problem...yet. When I'm older I'm going to have the hugest pair of bifocals out there.

  16. Hmmn... as I've grown older and wider, I found myself using my long-distance glasses less and less. Now you tell me I'm going to need to get a new pair of glasses?
    Wah :(
    (Self-pitying whine)

  17. I'm still young, but I like to think I'm dooming my vision early by spending lots of time on the computer and reading books in the near-dark. Give me a few more years.

  18. I used to get all "c" on this quiz and didn't understand why all the other aging people around me looked so old with their glasses. Alas, the print was so blurred that I now answer "b". One advantage I used to have, when I looked at myself in a mirror I thought I looked pretty hot. That was until I put the glasses on and found that I was staring at a guy in a photo that comes with the frame and the mirror hung on next to it. Getting old sucks :)

  19. What quiz? There was a quiz? Oh, because I put on my reading glasses I could read this and got all Bs. I just bought a 3 pair pack of glasses at Costco for $18. And they are very stylish. So now I can see and look fabu.

  20. As I read this, I'm trying to adjust to my new "no-line bi-focals" which is really code for "old lady glasses for folks who are to vain (stubborn) to admit they need old lady glasses. Now I can see what I've been missing AND I no longer have to stretch things out as far as my arm will stretch in order to read them.

    By the way, my father for years had stubborn hearing-opia. For years could not figure out why we kept yelling at him to turn down the tv!

  21. Leave it to me to have presbyopia in one eye, which didn't happen until my mid fifties. recently, I am having a bit of trouble with the other eye as well. so I have reading glasses and I use them because they make everything a wee bit sharper.

    This was a great test. Thanks, Crabby.


  22. I wear glasses only to read menus.

    I never suffered from Stubbornopia though I know some youth who suffer from it though maybe not about their ability to read/see.

    My presbyopia started right after age 40. I was sort of sad about it at first but realized the one really great thing about not being able to see close-up - is you can't see any of your chin hairs. Everyone else has to look at your chin hairs but you. It's a real true miracle from the universe.

  23. Well I'm blind as a bat anyhow (myopia) so I don't think that I'm stubborn at all when it comes to my vision. I'm just hoping they develop the eyeball transplant soon because that's the only way I'm not going blind before I die...

  24. I would have to amend all the Bs to "I make a decision about which diopter I need at the time and then spend ten minutes trying to find the right pair. Or any pair..."

    At home I have every diopter from 1.00 to 2.25. Somewhere. I try not to give up and go to my backpack where I pack three different diopter strengths: one of them a strong pair of bifocals because I can't sing with a conductor without them unless I memorize, one a weak pair for the computer at work, and another strong pair of regular readers because I hate reading with bifocals (you have to move your head up and down). And an extra teeny-weensy pair in my outside purse pocket for whipping out at the grocery etc..

    I try not to access my traveling pairs when I'm at home because then I tend to leave them around the house instead of putting them back.

    I also have some contacts, but I can't wear them every day.

    So I guess I'm the Imelda Marcos of presbyopia correctives. If they ever develop a reliable surgery for it, I am so going to do it.

  25. still young........for now! But why do I wanna go to bed when the kids do at 8:00!

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Near-sighted since childhood; far-sighted since early 40s. Astigmatism developed somewhere in between. If only I could afford a new prescription four times a year, which seems to be how often I'd need one. Will my eyes ever stop changing? The longest I've gone with one prescription was three years in my twenties.

    And reading menus? I used to startle the waitstaff by picking up the candle and holding it up to the menu.

    [Deleted post? Why, no, I can't read what I'm typing.]

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  28. Crabby,

    Very funny post. I missed you!

    I don't have trouble reading, but my night vision (distance wise) keeps getting lousier and lousier. I used to be able to see just fine at night. I still do OK, but definitely heading South.

    I have an ancient pair of mild distance specs (I'm ever so slightly near-sighted) that I wear in the car in the rare event I'm doing highway driving at night. (I do not legally have to wear them when I drive, but maybe by the next eye-test...who knows?)

  29. Hehehe this made me cackle because my parents both have such a hard time reading menus. We all end up spending more time laughing about it than actually understanding what's ON the menu. Good thing they're good sports about it ;)

    (and am so glad that I have very good vision)

  30. I'm 52, terribly nearsighted and have worn contacts since 16. I have a variant of stubbornopia in that I REFUSE to wear the stupid chain whatever thingy around my neck! I slide one earpiece in my shirt, which is fine til I lean over and half of my many pairs jump right off. I have had a couple infuriating pairs that would absolutely fling themselves off if I just sneezed, say, and I have hurled them across parking lots for being so impertinent!

    Then I walk around wearing them slid down my nose or resting on my chin because I will need them again in a moment. I even do that in the store, I don';t care if it looks silly.

    I also realized about 6 months ago I have become my Gram, who would wander the house muttering where are my glasses? Have you seen my glasses?! And they were right there on her chain. Mine are generally hanging off my shirt...

    LOL. Getting old is better that taking an early dirt nap.

  31. Hey, I just discovered you can drag and drop the captcha word into comments, LOL! This one was "FLAME" in bright red.

    BTW, in Firefox you can hit ctrl and use a scroll wheel to size the page up and down, much lazier way to do it. ;)

  32. I couldn't resist trying that, but in Safari what gets dropped is the url.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  33. Did you know that everyone eventually becomes presbyopic?

    Reading glasses is such a hassle! But there are better options these days — go to for more information!

  34. Love this post - just stumbled upon it. And now I am finding myself sometimes wearing two pairs of glasses so I can see small print. What is the world coming to?


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